Dan Herron from VisionQuest Labs Shares 5 Steps to Achieve Your Fitness Goals


Dan Herron is currently focused on his work at VisionQuest Labs in Indianapolis, Indiana, a state-of-the-art health, fitness, and performance testing lab and indoor cycling training center.

VisionQuest Labs’ metabolic tests, fitness and athletic consulting, and cycling studio can help everyone improve their fitness and performance– from beginner to elite athlete. Dan Herron has assisted with various aspects of starting this new business. He’s spent time building relationships with individual athletes, fitness studios, and companies looking to incorporate this testing into their wellness packages while also planning and coaching cycling camps and indoor structured rides. He enjoys consulting with clients on the next steps in applying the data from their assessments into their workout plans.

Dan Herron’s future plans include pursuing certifications that will enable him to provide professional coaching in triathlon and the individual disciplines of swimming, cycling, and running. 

Dan Herron recently shared some insights about creating a plan to achieve our fitness goals, and he shared with us the five key steps to putting together a plan that will actually work. 

“You’ve got a whole year ahead of you, and you’ve probably got at least 20 things you’d like to improve, attain, and change in the months ahead. Considering all of your goals and the full year ahead can be absolutely overwhelming. One of our problems with reaching our fitness goals is the frustration we can feel at being overwhelmed with the seemingly endless possibilities and options that are before us, and all that with time continuing to tick away. 

So what do we do?

1Get small with your goals

You need to move from big, hairy goals, to small, specific, and neatly trimmed goals. Get SPECIFIC. Big, generalized goals with no specific actionable steps or specific indicators for when they have been accomplished will always just remain big, hairy, and unreachable desires; they aren’t truly goals. 

How do you make specific goals?

Make a list. Write down 10 or 15 VERY SPECIFIC goals that you hope to attain: “cut 10 minutes from my half marathon time,” “place in the top 3 of my age group in an Eagle Creek Triathlon,” “increase my FTP by 15% in time for the VQ Hincapie Fondo Camp in October” “lose 15lbs by my June beach vacation…”

Go ahead, make that list now…

Winnow that list down to your top 3 most compelling goals. Walk through your full list, ask yourself how excited you are about each goal, comparing them all to one another as you go. Making a top 3 list hones in all of those big and endless possibilities, and gets you thinking SMALLER. 

2Write down your dates

When do you plan to accomplish these 3 specific goals? What are the dates of those events you’re planning? How long will it take for you to increase your watts capacity on the bike? What is the date you’re taking that beach vacation? 

Writing down these specific “attainment” dates creates boundaries around your training year. This allows you to have control over the time factor and enables you to work backward from each of those goals in order to identify actionable baby steps.    

3Create your system

Making a plan requires shaping an infrastructure to support your goals and daily action steps. This is vital. You can create your own system with a spreadsheet or simple calendar. Or, you can use a training app like Training Peaks or some other structure in order to plan your daily workouts, track your stats, monitor your diet, and lay out your plan for advancement. If you don’t have a tracking system, you have no way to know how far you’ve gotten or if you’re making any kind of advancement toward your overall goals. 

4Divide your season up

You can’t go after everything all at once. Launching out of the gate race-horse style for months on end is not sustainable. You’ll get burned out, worn out, and possibly injured. 

Our Sample Goals:

Goal A: cut 10 minutes from half marathon time, May 7th

Goal B: drop 15lbs by June vacation, June 20th 

Goal C: increase threshold power by 15%, Oct 15th

If you go hard after all of these at once, your focus will get divided, your planning will get convoluted, and you’ll get worn down. 

Work backward from each goal from week to week. For example, based on a good exercise & nutrition plan, the CDC says that it’s healthy for someone to lose about 1lb/week. So, to lose that 15lbs, create and take steps on a plan that could see you drop 1lb/week for 15 weeks. Voila. 

Then, take steps to monitor your progress from week to week, perhaps even schedule a couple of DEXA scans over the course of this time to make sure that you’re losing fat and not lean tissue. 

Identify ways that your specific goals can come into confluence with each other. Your weight loss goal will be impacted by your half marathon time goal, and vice versa. Your efforts on the bike will also impact that weight loss goal. 

Dividing your season up into smaller segments will also allow you to develop smaller progress goals as well. Instead of shooting for a 15% increase in your bike power in 9 months, you can instead focus on a 5% increase in bike power every 3 months. And, when you use our indoor cycling platform, all your data can be easily stored and accessed for ongoing progress checks and training adjustments.  

Through monitoring your consistent quantitative progress in each of these areas over time, you’ll also receive the qualitative reinforcement and encouragement in the emotional realm that will continue to nurture your motivation over time as well!

5Secure the resources you need to achieve these goals

Maybe this means looking for a running, triathlon, or cycling coach to help you create that structure and develop your progressive plan. 

Maybe this means rallying a partner or a small group of other athletes together for mutual accountability, encouragement, and peer coaching. 

Maybe this looks like maintaining our Labs membership to keep up your indoor structured cycling training. 

Maybe you make use of VQ’s nutrition planning resources, a VO2 Max test in order to know your optimal fat-burning heart rate zones, or you take the plunge with a blood lactate test so you can train smarter on the bike.” 

Big thanks to Dan Herron from VisionQuest Labs for his insights and advice!

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